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Cliff and I are the odd couple in numerous ways. He’s thirty years my senior. He’s egalitarian; I’m more moderate, somewhere in between egalitarian and complementarian. He’s written or edited a dozen books, all with his name on the cover. I’ve written mostly for a Christian publisher. But there is one thing of utmost importance that binds us together: the healing importance of telling one’s story. By teaching literature, I have placed the utmost importance on what I believe is integral to life—that we tell our stories; by forming them, we give them meaning. When others listen, they affirm the meaning. Sometimes, they even tell our stories to their friends. Stories inform one’s life and decisions and are more easily remembered than expository writing or speaking.

You may ask what brings us together to write this book. Cliff and I met when I was a college freshman. He taught my philosophy course, and I had never before met someone in authority who wanted people to call him by his first name when he obviously had the right to be called Dr. Williams. He liked to minister to the homeless in Chicago, but not in an official capacity. Instead, his idea was to feed them sandwiches in hopes they would trust us enough to start to talk with us. So one Sunday afternoon we packed up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a carload of students and went to Chicago.

As we handed out sandwiches, people began to shed their reluctance. They told us their stories. One man’s story intrigued me, and I remained behind to ask him questions. The group drifted on. As Cliff tells it, I was unaware that the group had moved on. Concerned about my welfare, he had the group retrace their steps until they saw me—not in trouble, not concerned about being separated, but sitting with a man who happened to be homeless, listening to his story. As I listened, I realized that my listening gave his story meaning and importance. 

I relate this story because I think it will help you to know who we are: an odd writing pair, united by our faith and our common histories and our concern for those who sense they have been excluded in some way, searching out those who have not told their stories.

We think your story will help other women. And by communicating your story, you will be building up the church, Christ’s bride, by asking those in positions of authority to consider the talents, abilities, and spiritual giftings of women who face obstacles to exercising authority in Christian settings because of their gender. In time, we hope the stories in Crossing Lines: How Women Do Ministry Differently than Men will lead churches to develop policies on which positions they think are biblical for women to hold. 

Cliff and I have both taught at Trinity International University, the place where we met more than twenty years ago. We ask you to allow us to come along on your journey and to frame it for others to read. 

— Lisa Ackland Carriere

Lisa's Web site is at www.lisaacklandcarriere.com.